Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia

By Brett Christophers | Go to book overview

2 Redemption

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

-- Romans 3:23

Most discussion of nineteenth-century colonial discourse has focused on its 'codification of difference. 1 Scholars have charted the manifold ways in which Europeans distinguished themselves from non-Europeans, showing that such distinctions often buttressed and coloured colonial practice. Homi Bhabha offers a useful synopsis of these findings. 'The objective of colonial discourse,' he claims, 'is to construe the colonized as a population of degenerate types on the basis of racial origin, in order to justify conquest and to establish systems of administration and instruction.'2 Although, clearly, colonial discourses were not all of a piece, most appealed to some form of racial hierarchy. Immutable and asymmetrical difference vindicated and explained imperial supremacy. 3

Anglican missionary discourse does not correspond to this model. Although it turned (at one level) on the identification of differences between Christian Europeans and 'heathen' Natives, it did not, and could not, assume immutable difference.

Consider a picture that appeared in an SPG publication, the Gospel Missionary, in 1870 (see Figure 5). It purported to show Good at work in British Columbia. Usually, such an image would have delighted him. Like many of his colleagues, Good depended heavily on the munificence of the British reading public and therefore craved publication -for he knew that 'to be out of print is to be out of mind.' 4 But this picture troubled Good, and for the following reasons. A long day's ride to the northeast of Lytton was the town of Ashcroft, where Good had baptized a Nlha7kápmx chief henceforth known to the Anglicans as John Mahascut. Upon returning to Lytton Good wrote to the SPG with details of the conversion. His account of what followed, penned many years later, is revealing:

-19-

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Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Abbreviations xxiii
  • 1 - Beginnings 3
  • 2 - Redemption 19
  • 3 - Reproduction 41
  • 4 - Space 67
  • 5 - Conversion 92
  • 6 - Morals 119
  • 7 - Dissolution 137
  • Notes 153
  • Bibliography 182
  • Index 193
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